While Christmas is acknowledged as being a special day around the country for those in prison it is just another day.
“Every year we get enquiries about how Christmas is spent in prison. Many people seem to have the impression that it is an extravagant affair. In reality it is Christmas, but without the trimmings,” says Manawatu Prison Manager Peter Howe.
“We have prisoners who have been spending time using skills gained from art programmes to make gifts that they can send home for Christmas. In some instances, the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS) may purchase gifts and send them to friends and family on prisoners’ behalf.”
“For staff who work on Christmas day it is business as usual, but prisoners (depending on their security classifications) may spend some time involved in recreational activities such as touch rugby or basketball. They can also attend multi-denominational church services held by the Prison Chaplain.”
Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) Manager Internal Services Sector Russell Baker says the Christmas meal meets basic nutritional requirements but is by no means lavish.
“Lunch is the main meal of the day and consists of a serving of vegetables, chicken and a Christmas fruit-mince pie while dinner is cold meat and salads. A vegetarian option is also available,” he says.
“The day’s meals, around 22,000 of them are prepared and cooked by prisoners which means they are also learning valuable skills by doing so.
The Christmas day menu is the same across all 20 prisons. The Department budgets approximately $4.50 per day to feed a prisoner and the main difference on Christmas is that the main meal is served at lunch.
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